What Does it Mean to Have “Common Ancestry”?

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November 17, 2010 Tags: Human Origins

Today's video features Denis Alexander. Please note the views expressed here are those of the author, not necessarily of The BioLogos Foundation. You can read more about what we believe here.

Denis Alexander: What Does it Mean to Have "Common Ancestry"? from BioLogos Foundation Inc on Vimeo.

In this brief video “Conversation” Denis Alexander, director of the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, explains the definition of common ancestry.

Common ancestry does not mean that we are descended from apes, rather, it means that we last shared a common ancestor with them roughly 6 million years ago. While apes have been evolving their way since that time, so too have humans. Alexander is positive about the notion of common ancestry, “it reflects that God in Genesis 1 looks on the whole created order and says this is good,” he says.

Alexander notes that the narrative of Genesis 1 indicates that on every day the material order that God brings into being is a good thing. On the sixth day He says “and it was very good” which shows that there was a special place accorded for human beings because they were created in God’s image.

The fact that we are all linked up in this evolutionary historical way is “wonderful,” says Alexander. “I find it a privilege that I should be linked up with all of these wonderful creatures and that we are all part of the same history.”

Genesis 1 tells us that all of the created order is good—we are all good according to God, “a good creation.”

Commentary written by the BioLogos editorial team.

Denis Alexander is the Director of the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion at St. Edmund’s College, Cambridge, to which he was elected a Fellow in 1998. Alexander writes, lectures, and broadcasts widely in the field of science and religion. He is a member of the International Society for Science and Religion.

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John - #41423

November 24th 2010

Rich wrote:
“Drop the work “block” if you will; it wasn’t important to my point.”

You don’t have a point other than a need to deceive others.

“Thus, you are still pushing on “block,” and now you are pushing on “derail,” not because these words affect the point (which I explained at length), but because you don’t want to address the point.”

Why not just admit that no one on our side is blocking or derailing anyone on your side, except properly to have your minority interpretation of Scripture taught as science in public schools?

John - #41424

November 24th 2010

““Another way of putting my point would be:  TEs frequently argue that ID, because it hopes to find design in nature, cannot be science at all (since science cannot answer questions about design),”

You’re trying to substitute one false claim for another that you won’t support because you know it is false.

Your claim constitutes bearing false witness because science clearly does answer questions about design. Anthropology is a blatant example of this.

The truth that you are deliberately trying to hide is that we argue that ID is not science because its promoters refuse to do science. They try to deceive the public about the evidence (as you routinely do) and they try to deceive the public into thinking that science is more about debate than it is about working in the lab or in the field (your favorite deception).

“Is that statement clear enough for you, beaglelady?”

It’s clear that you can’t support your claims of blocking and derailing and your un-Christian pride prevents you from admitting that they are false.

John - #41425

November 24th 2010

“Might I suggest a short introduction to evolutionary science for those insist on use of the term “random mutation?””

It’s kind of cheesy at the beginning, but at about 2 minutes in it provides a fine explanation of why the harping on “random mutation” represents ignorance, confusion, dishonesty, or some combination of the three.

It neatly demolishes the thesis of Behe’s entire second book, because we know polymophism is present and can measure it directly. Whether those polymorphisms are produced by mutations that are random (only wrt fitness) or God as the raw material for selection to act upon doesn’t falsify the experiments and field data that clearly show the change over time that denialists are trying their best to ignore.

beaglelady - #41443

November 25th 2010

It’s kind of cheesy at the beginning

Yeah but I liked the shot of Snowflake and friend.

Ryan G - #41459

November 26th 2010

You are all smoke and mirrors, no substance.
I am neither unfamiliar with quantum physics nor theology. I have read more difficult material than Russell, although his is certainly not easy.

If you have an argument to make, you can make it using words on a page, referencing quotations, like anyone else with a scholarly bent.

You seem to want people to debate oblique allusions to paraphrases of your misinterpretations. That would seem to be a good strategy if one has a weak argument.

Regardless, this has nothing to do with a defense of ID, and seems to concern a small body of TE theorizing of the most speculative nature. I commend Russell and others like him for taking diverse discipline (genetics, quantum physics and theology) and hypothesizing what they might have to say to one another.

Jon Garvey - #41471

November 26th 2010

By the way, I have also often seen (on Biologos) the idea, as cited by Rich, of God having given the Universe freedom to evolve, etc, whilst he in some way retains authority, apparently,  through his foreknowledge alone.

Like Rich, I find that not only opposed to the whole character of God in Scripture, but rather incoherent. For God to make promises, he either must work in history through direct action, through pre-loading the Universe, or by pre-selecting one Universe from all the possibles. None of those actually dispenses with the truth that all freedoms are ultimately subsumed in God’s sovereign will.

Jon Garvey - #41473

November 26th 2010

My first post disappeared somewhere! Re-written here.

The most significant part on this thread is the discussion on randomness. All agree that God is in control of his Universe (open theism isn’t represented).

On one hand Rich seems to suggest that behind random, eg quantum, events must be God’s action, ie randomness is only apparent.

R Hampton counters that randomness is real, but God selects from an infinite number of possible universes the one where random events coincide with his will - a virtual theistic multiverse, if you will. With respect, this seems to give undue importance to randomness whilst not establishing it.

If I write a book, I select from an infinite number of possibilities: that’s pure design. If I were able to write every possible combination of characters, and then select my book from them, it’s still pure design, though an unnecessarily laborious method. The fact that I’ve binned every event that didn’t meet my criteria effectively destroys any true randomness in my book.

The only difference from Rich’s position is that God’s interference is in an infinitite number of rejections rather than a finite number of interventions. Same net result: design.

Gregory - #41490

November 26th 2010

Take the example of a List. One makes a list & chronologically notes some ‘same class’ thing, phenomenon or person, sequentially, from 1-500. It happens that the Name we focus on here is #428. It seems there is little explanation for why this phenomenon = 428 by ‘historical record,’ unless we can trace how all 500 came to be (i.e. their history) in their precise locations (i.e. assuming once you’re in a location you must stay in that location; true sequentiality). Iow, with some things we don’t have a closed experiment or closed system.

Which fields look upon things as open when for others (i.e. even experts) they are closed? Randomness? Statistical data?

Taxonomy is deemed important field. Zoology precedence over Anthropology. Ancestors.

What about the economic taxonomists & the taxonomic engineers?

What about the anthropic physicists & anthropic cosmologists in addition to the anthropic anthropologists?

What @ genealogia? Ancestors? MRCA is a helpful acronym. Who were my ancestors and how do they differ from yours?

I agree with Jon @ the importance of the term ‘random(ness)’, along with most people on this list & add adj. ‘special’ &/or the category ‘kind’. D.A. is not clear on this.

beaglelady - #41497

November 26th 2010

If I write a book, I select from an infinite number of possibilities: that’s pure design.

I’d say that the possibilities would be quite finite.

Jon Garvey - #41498

November 26th 2010

@beaglelady - #41497

Not if I copy from you

beaglelady - #41504

November 26th 2010

My point is that most of us are finite. Perhaps you are not. Whatever.

Beaglelady - #41639

November 27th 2010

If God pre-selected one Universe from all the possibles, is the one we have the best of all possible worlds?

Jon Garvey - #41650

November 28th 2010

@Beaglelady - #41639

An interesting question, Prof Pangloss…

I suppose the fallacy in Candide is the assumption there IS a best of all possible universes - as opposed to the one God decides he wishes to create.

To use my analogy (even though you don’t like it!) - if I were indeed infinite, that would not mean I had no choice about the story I wanted to tell in my book. As the old saying goes, there’s more than one way to skin a cat.

R Hampton - #42102

November 30th 2010

If God pre-selected one Universe from all the possibles, is the one we have the best of all possible worlds?

Yes. God did not create our Universe less good than possible for that would mean he valued something else more than goodness.

But please bear in mind that God did not need to create all the other universes to know them (that is, to understand all of the unused possibilities generated within this Creation). God’s selection (for our Creation’s history) was the only perfect choice. In other words, God did not need to consult all of less than perfect choices to discover/decide which history deserved to be actualized. Being omnipotent, that one choice was obvious to him from the beginning. Even so, God does know the “multiverse” of all possible Creations - how could he not?

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